The sweet salve of redemptive suffering.

h1  When I think about the Pope?  I feel a sense of solace. You know that he was formed like an emerald or a diamond, under the seeming cruelest forces of nature. Just as jewels are formed in the bowels of Mother Earths core.  Vicious seeming crushing of elementals. Carbon seems to almost be bilocating?  At once it is the darkest force cut to its essence it becomes a diamond. Distilling to the core? The magical swan nature it was truly inside.

Pope Jean Paul seems to have suffered these crushing doubts and forces during the war-time. Should he take up arms?  Should he rage and fume?  How to accept the death of his country?  He chose love. He found the one power that evil cannot conquer. He cared so much for his people, that he would not allow the warring factions to make him defile himself. As if a painter of roses were asked to make a fortune painting heartless manifestos of hate. Could you choose to cut off the fingers of the violinist?  Would it steal the music in his soul?  How much did the Pope suffer?  Watching his people tortured and told that they simply did not cut the mustard. He defied everyone with a transcendental love.

Back to this article?  It is rather advanced for me in theology. I am just a green Catholic newbie.  In fact?  I am not sure that I have the mind for the true higher knowledge that arrives from any faith you choose.  Not only Christian!  Buddhism is very intellectual. Yet, I grasp some notions.

What I am asking myself is can you transcend suffering by chanting a mantra of baffling nonsense to oneself?  Like the mad hatter or the caterpillar?  Isn’t this a sort of “La La Land” ….?    Saying “green peas green peas and whipped cream or something?  As if to break the code of suffering?  Can you extract your heart from the remorse you might feel or does it go into your own soul galaxy in a cellular level.  To cut away the heart?  We are not bilocating are we, in being in two places at once.  We are in denial. But, I have done it just ignoring my heart.  It is a type of evil for me personally.  Being able to know that I feel one way and am living in a totally contradictory manner.

Therefore, I wonder if what this article says is true. There is power in suffering. Just as an athlete or a Priest is criticized for self flagellation. An athlete who wants the gold? He will become superstitious and wear a special pair of socks and push himself to the limits of pain unheard of.  I always say?  Lucky that you never see the feet of a ballerina, for her toes are scourged in blood and bruises.  Just as is the swan, just below the surface of our vantage point of  cerulean gliding upon its watery horizon.  The swan never shows its crimson cuts and snares above the placid lake.  Yet it does not say, I shall no longer dance because my suffering is evident. It does not ask God to pluck his feathers and make a head-dress for a pompous shopper.  It takes its suffering as a modicum of honor. It knows that thru suffering it will be alchemy into gold itself. The alchemist always begins with charcoal darkness.

To rant and rave that we don’t care, therefore we are invincible or invictus is quite contrary to passion.  They say revenge is a dish best served cold?  Then of course happiness is a passionate recourse like heaping hot coals upon that sad feather which darkened ones door. Happiness means you are invictus personified. But to say, we are glorious in our negligence, in our ability to never feel or suffer?  Well it is like eating a dish and saying you have no taste?  It is like marauding the streets of Pompei saying “Oh dear God, I have become greater than you!  Because I don’t have to use any of my faculties!

Well we all know that it is a dangerous sort of condition to have taken leave of our senses. Suffering or punishment?  When my mother would exclaim I was a “Dork” She would say nothing much more.  In her eyes was such disgust and disappointment. She would say? Did you put your make up on with the lights out?  Why aren’t you at least the best in your class with so many classes in your school and so many schools in the city?  She said suffer now and win later. You learn thru suffering a tough test. Yes, we all want to escape pain or defeat. We feel we rather die than survive betrayal or loss of status. When tragedy touched my life beyond the limits of my ego and DNA?  Yes, I thought I would rather die.  The pain I felt not being able to sleep or breathe. Feeling that every blade of grass had laughed at me mercilessly.  I talked to birds which shat on me on my very worst day of grief. I took my watch which had green pigeons poop on it as I was walking in a rain storm. I had lost my welcome at the Buddhist temple where I resided. I felt as if Mt Fuji fell on me and I had disgraced my family.

When you are violated?  You can control the panorama by blaming oneself.  But the truth is it takes many actors and scene makers to stage a great coup! It takes many years in motion for the great boil on the soul of humanity to erupt. It took 50 years after WW2 for me to land at my Great Grand Father’s Buddhist temple. My Mother’s pride and joy. When they found me dozing in a church pew at the Little Church around the Corner in Midtown?  They felt betrayed. But I always just loved churches!  Alas, it took 50 years for me to get there and the dream was shattered into a billion bleeding stars. Scintillating horror. Long story, but now that I look back?  It was all met to be. What if I just gave up and decided to become a werewolves of Wall Street to say?  I don’t care!  I don’t want to ever hope again. I will become a mercenary!  Ha ha…   Well, I was violated but it’s a long story and one of which I have only grown stronger and more loving from.  Thankfully!

Yet, the remorse I felt at betraying my Mother? Her dream was that I arrive and study Zen. So, I did for almost 10 years.  It is like the internal compass of the soul.  Monitoring your thoughts.  Buddhism in my mind believes that God lives inside of us.  They feel that in the West?  Not having a secure place to put God!  They thew him up in to the skies where he could always send us efficacious graces without hindrance. But in Buddhism?  Suffering means you must crack open that massive rock of yourself. You must daily by hard work chip away that useless lava and get to the jewel of oneself.  They call it the Diamond mind. After you find the jewel?  You spend all of your life chiseling it and cutting it into a marriage between you and God.  LIke an extra sensory perceptive signal through this diamond?  We are bonded with God thru our mind which is the transmitter.

Buddhism seems very Modern Art Museum with abstract paintings by De Chirico or Delaney but perhaps Paul Klee?  Compared to the Christian icons, which are very rooted in human forms.  In scripture?  I believe I remember the idea of  Paul here: 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The idea of not only clarity? But that God knows us, we simply do not know him. Like a great benefactor tolerating our insolence.  Waiting for us to evolve.  But, in searching for images?  I have lost my train of thought. Alas, we must not run from suffering. As soon as we are born? We grow stronger by agitating the great muscle of the mind. We endure and we surpass all of our fears. At some point?  We believe w have arrived and our laurels are waiting for us in gold? Have they tarnished?  We feel that there is no more room for growth or that God should be finished testing us?  Sometimes we must suffer for the somnambulist as others have suffered for me in my bouts of day dreaming like an ostrich.

When I felt that I had fallen into a volcano of dry ice with steam made out of the tears of all confused souls?  It was not pink, it was like a blue emerald. Like a blue fire. My hair felt as if each strand were an angry demon mocking me. It was as if I were being radiated with little monsters pulling my hair.  I thought surely, I will die.  I was losing a lot of blood for some reason internally and no one knew why. I walked into a local lounge and decided to commit social hedonism after my Buddhist ruin. I had a glass tea-cup and polka dot with red dots saucer and I sat down at the bar. I was dressed in white silk like Ti Kuan Yin crying. I saw men wearing not one, but two pairs of sunglasses at night!  I just did not care. I said, I am going to play all the songs I can about the moon.  Billie Holiday to Anita O’Day.  I ordered a light beer and poured it into my teacup. Everyone peaked.  I sat there in despair. I felt the sun was raging after me with a sickle, wanting to chop me down like golden wheat in a field of gold.

I listened to the music and I wrote to my minister, right there from the bar!  I was falling fast. It’s a long story but naturally I turned to beer!  But, was it guilt or was if just despair.  Circumstances cut the umbilical umbrella of my mothers love from me?  The temple for me was my Mother. Suddenly it was not!  Before I began a road to ruin and landing in a woman’s house of detention!  Oh sure, when someone takes your everything from you? You go out for blood!  Now they go out for blood if an eyelash falls into your tears. Over nothing human life is sacrificed and perhaps the very best ones ever born!  But the chant and armor. “We feel no pain”

I may have become a berserker myself, if God did not put a suffering soul into my path. One whose life was so very hard.  God took this man whose life had the weight of all unimagined recoiling and impediment.  He rose him to the occasion to save my life. You never know whom will become a hero?  Often it is the most unlikely and humble.  I met a man whom effortlessly took the shirt off of his back. He nursed me back to life, for he had known suffering all of his life.  God gave him the joy of being a true hero.  Just like the little people of Fatima. The poorest and most enduring. They are ready with spiritual muscle to lift the knots of nought.  In Buddhism it is the richest!  Kings throw their lots to the wind and follow the Buddha into a path of sacrifice.

Remorse well?  I know it very well, it is a great friend of mine. I aim to say that we must not fear each stage of baking a cake, for we may be baking jewels like the molten earth of Mother earth to wear like a shimmering dancer.

I must reread this myself!  But, I believe as long as we remain alive and we can give back for what thanks back to God?  We can make up for our mistakes and that is the greatest part of suffering.  Being able to restore balance to ourselves and others.  Learning and growing. God Bless every one of every faith!  If the shoe fits wear it.

(adding photos soon)

Reading Selections From The Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris By John Paul II

January 30, 2012

The Power Of Salvific Suffering
Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church”(Colossians 1:24).

These words seem to be found at the end of the long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God. These words have as it were the value of a final discovery, which is accompanied by joy. For this reason Saint Paul writes: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake”(Colossians 1:24). The joy comes from the discovery of the meaning of suffering, and this discovery, even if it is most personally shared in by Paul of Tarsus who wrote these words, is at the same time valid for others. The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it because of all those whom it can help — just as it helped him — to understand the salvific meaning of suffering.

The Theme Of Suffering
Even though Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, wrote that “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now”( Romans 8:22), even though man knows and is close to the sufferings of the animal world, nevertheless what we express by the word “suffering” seems to be particularly essential to the nature of man. It is as deep as man himself, precisely because it manifests in its own way that depth which is proper to man, and in its own way surpasses it. Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence: it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense “destined” to go beyond himself, and he is called to this in a mysterious way.

When Suffering Enters Your Life
It can be said that man in a special fashion becomes the way for the Church when suffering enters his life. This happens, as we know, at different moments in life, it takes place in different ways, it assumes different dimensions; nevertheless, in whatever form, suffering seems to be, and is, almost inseparable from man’s earthly existence.

Assuming then that throughout his earthly life man walks in one manner or another on the long path of suffering, it is precisely on this path that the Church at all times – and perhaps especially during the Holy Year of the Redemption – should meet man. Born of the mystery of Redemption in the Cross of Christ, the Church has to try to meet man in a special way on the path of his suffering. In this meeting man “becomes the way for the Church”, and this way is one of the most important ones.

A Meditation On Suffering
Human suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect, and in its own way it intimidates
For in suffering is contained the greatness of a specific mystery. This special respect for every form of human suffering must be set at the beginning of what will be expressed here later by the deepest need of the heart, and also by the deep imperative of faith. About the theme of suffering these two reasons seem to draw particularly close to each other and to become one: the need of the heart commands us to overcome fear, and the imperative of faith — formulated, for example, in the words of Saint Paul quoted at the beginning — provides the content, in the name of which and by virtue of which we dare to touch what appears in every man so intangible: for man, in his suffering, remains an intangible mystery.

The World Of Human Suffering
Even though in its subjective dimension, as a personal fact contained within man’s concrete and unrepeatable interior, suffering seems almost inexpressible and not transferable, perhaps at the same time nothing else requires as much as does suffering, in its “objective reality”, to be dealt with, meditated upon, and conceived as an explicit problem; and that therefore basic questions be asked about it and the answers sought. It is evident that it is not a question here merely of giving a description of suffering. There are other criteria which go beyond the sphere of description, and which we must introduce when we wish to penetrate the world of human suffering.

Medicine, as the science and also the art of healing, discovers in the vast field of human sufferings the best known area, the one identified with greater precision and relatively more counterbalanced by the methods of “reaction” (that is, the methods of therapy). Nonetheless, this is only one area. The field of human suffering is much wider, more varied, and multi-dimensional. Man suffers in different ways, ways not always considered by medicine, not even in its most advanced specializations. Suffering is something which is still wider than sickness, more complex and at the same time still more deeply rooted in humanity itself.

A certain idea of this problem comes to us from the distinction between physical suffering and moral suffering. This distinction is based upon the double dimension of the human being and indicates the bodily and spiritual element as the immediate or direct subject of suffering. Insofar as the words “suffering” and “pain”, can, up to a certain degree, be used as synonyms, physical suffering ispresent when “the body is hurting” in some way, whereas moral suffering is “pain of the soul”. In fact, it is a question of pain of a spiritual nature, and not only of the “psychological” dimension of pain which accompanies both moral and physical suffering The vastness and the many forms of moral suffering are certainly no less in number than the forms of physical suffering. But at the same time, moral suffering seems as it were less identified and less reachable by therapy.

Sacred Scripture is a great book about sufferingLet us quote from the books of the Old Testament a few examples of situations which bear the signs of suffering, and above all moral suffering: the danger of death, the death of one’s own children and, especially, the death of the firstborn and only son; and then too: the lack of offspring, nostalgia for the homeland, persecution and hostility of the environment, mockery and scorn of the one who suffers, loneliness and abandonment; and again: the remorse of conscience, the difficulty of understanding why the wicked prosper and the just suffer, the unfaithfulness and ingratitude of friends and neighbors; and finally: the misfortunes of one’s own nation.

In treating the human person as a psychological and physical “whole”, the Old Testament often links “moral” sufferings with the pain of specific parts of the body: the bones, kidneys, liver, viscera, heart. In fact one cannot deny that moral sufferings have a “physical” or somatic element, and that they are often reflected in the state of the entire organism.

As we see from the examples quoted, we find in Sacred Scripture an extensive list of variously painful situations for man. This varied list certainly does not exhaust all that has been said and constantly repeated on the theme of suffering by the book of the history of man (this is rather an “unwritten book”), and even more by the book of the history of humanity, read through the history of every human individual.

It can be said that man suffers whenever he experiences any kind of evil. In thevocabulary of the Old Testament, suffering and evil are identified with each other.In fact, that vocabulary did not have a specific word to indicate “suffering”. Thus it defined as ” evil” everything that was suffering. Only the Greek language, and together with it the New Testament (and the Greek translations of the Old Testament), use the verb * = “I am affected by …. I experience a feeling, I suffer”; and, thanks to this verb, suffering is no longer directly identifiable with (objective) evil, but expresses a situation in which man experiences evil and in doing so becomes the subject of suffering. Suffering has indeed both a subjective and a passive character (from “patior“). Even when man brings suffering on himself, when he is its cause, this suffering remains something passive in its metaphysical essence.

This does not however mean that suffering in the psychological sense is not marked by a specific “activity”. This is in fact that multiple and subjectively differentiated “activity” of pain, sadness, disappointment, discouragement or even despair, according to the intensity of the suffering subject and his or her specific sensitivity. In the midst of what constitutes the psychological form of suffering there is always an experience of evil, which causes the individual to suffer.

Thus the reality of suffering prompts the question about the essence of evil: what is evil?

This questions seems, in a certain sense, inseparable from the theme of suffering. The Christian response to it is different, for example, from the one given by certain cultural and religious traditions which hold that existence is an evil from which one needs to be liberated. Christianity proclaims the essential good of existence and the good of that which exists, acknowledges the goodness of the Creator and proclaims the good of creatures. Man suffers on account of evil, which is a certain lack, limitation or distortion of good. We could say that man suffers because of a good in which he does not share, from which in a certain sense he is cut off, or of which he has deprived himself. He particularly suffers when he “ought” — in the normal order of things — to have a share in this good and does not have it.

Thus, in the Christian view, the reality of suffering is explained through evil, which always, in some way, refers to a good.

In itself human suffering constitutes as it were a specific “world” which exists together with man, which appears in him and passes, and sometimes does not pass, but which consolidates itself and becomes deeply rooted in him. This world of suffering, divided into many, very many subjects, exists as it were “in dispersion”. Every individual, through personal suffering, constitutes not only a small part of that a world”, but at the same time” that world” is present in him as a finite and unrepeatable entity.

Parallel with this, however, is the interhuman and social dimension. The world of suffering possesses as it were its own solidarity. People who suffer become similar to one another through the analogy of their situation, the trial of their destiny, or through their need for understanding and care, and perhaps above all through the persistent question of the meaning of suffering. Thus, although the world of suffering exists “in dispersion”, at the same time it contains within itself a. singular challenge to communion and solidarity. We shall also try to follow this appeal in the present reflection.

Considering the world of suffering in its personal and at the same time collective meaning, one cannot fail to notice the fact that this world, at some periods of time and in some eras of human existence, as it were becomes particularly concentrated.This happens, for example, in cases of natural disasters, epidemica, catastrophes, upheavals and various social scourges: one thinks, for example, of a bad harvest and connected with it – or with various other causes – the scourge of famine.

One thinks, finally, of war. I speak of this in a particular way. I speak of the last two World Wars, the second of which brought with it a much greater harvest of death and a much heavier burden of human sufferings. The second half of our century, inits turn, brings with it — as though in proportion to the mistakes and transgressions of our contemporary civilization — such a horrible threat of nuclear war that we cannot think of this period except in terms of an incomparable accumulation of sufferings, even to the possible self-destruction of humanity.

In this way, that world of suffering which in brief has its subject in each human being, seems in our age to be transformed — perhaps more than at any other moment — into a special “world”: the world which as never before has been transformed by progress through man’s work and, at the same time, is as never before in danger because of man’s mistakes and offences.

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